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Taiwan Worried About China's Increased Military Budget

AFP file photo - late 90s
Taipei (AFP) Mar 8, 2002
Taiwan said Friday that expansion in military spending of its rival China would only cause more instability across the Taiwan Strait.

"We are aware of the double-digit growths in military spending annually in the mainland during 1990-2002. We also see a continous deployment of missiles along the coast of Fujian province facing Taiwan," said Chen Ming-tung, vice chairman of the cabinet-level Mainland Affairs Council (MAC).

"We think these kind of moves would not help improve relations across the Taiwan Strait."

Cross-strait ties have been at a low ebb since pro-independence President Chen Shui-bian took office in May 2000.

A 17.6-percent rise in military spending to 166 billion yuan (20 billion dollars) -- part of China's 2002 budget -- was presented to the annual session of its rubber-stamp parliament, the National People's Congress, on Wednesday.

The MAC formulates Taiwan's policy on China, which regards the island as part of its territory to be reunified by force if necessary.

"The mainland, so far, has not renounced the use of force against Taiwan, and this has caused instability to the Strait," he said.

"Having the missiles aimed at Taiwan will not win the heart of people on Taiwan," he added.

China has at least 300 ballistic missiles along its southeast coast trained on Taiwan. The island's defence ministry expects the number to reach 800 by 2006.

China's openly stated military budget is expected to grow between 15 and 17 percent annually between 2001 and 2005. It rose 17.7 percent last year, but China watchers say Beijing does not reveal anywhere near all of its defence expenditure in the published budget.

According to experts, China has additionally made multi-billion dollar purchases of advanced Russian fighter jets and hi-tech naval destroyers through barter trade or special government appropriations that do not always show up on the defence budget.

Taiwan and China separated in 1949 following a civil war.

All rights reserved. 2002 Agence France-Presse. Sections of the information displayed on this page (dispatches, photographs, logos) are protected by intellectual property rights owned by Agence France-Presse. As a consequence, you may not copy, reproduce, modify, transmit, publish, display or in any way commercially exploit any of the content of this section without the prior written consent of Agence France-Presse.

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China Would Make "Great Mistake" If Uses Force Against Taiwan
 Washington (AFP) Aug 29, 2001
China is fast heading for superpower status but would make a "great mistake" if it used its growing might to take Taiwan by force, the Pentagon's number two official warned in an interview published Wednesday. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz argued in an interview with The Washington Times that the highly sensitive Taiwan issue was at the core of US-China relations.
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